The 71st National Book Awards will be an Exclusively Digital Ceremony

July 2020



All 2020 National Book Awards events, including the 71st National Book Awards Ceremony on November 18, will be held online.

The National Book Foundation announced that all events of National Book Awards week, including the 71st National Book Awards Ceremony on November 18, will be held virtually in light of public health concerns related to the coronavirus and to ensure the safety of all participants.

“Though the medium is new, the entire Board and National Book Foundation staff remain committed to hosting a National Book Awards celebration that is a beacon of hope for all who attend–from our incredible Judges and future Finalists to readers everywhere–and one that maintains the high standards that have come to be associated with the Awards and the National Book Foundation,” said David Steinberger, Chair of the Board of Directors.

With the transition to exclusively digital events, the National Book Foundation is spacing out its traditional National Book Awards week throughout October and November. The first event, 5 Under 35, which recognizes emerging fiction writers, will take place on Tuesday, October 20. The National Book Awards Finalist Reading will be on Tuesday, November 10 and feature readings from all 25 Finalists’ books. In partnership with the Miami Book Fair, the Teen Press Conference will go live on Monday, November 16. The events will culminate with the 71st National Book Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, November 18. Over the years, the events of the National Book Awards week have commemorated works of scholarship alongside moving verse and narratives of all kinds. Though the Awards this year will not be an in-person dinner and ceremony in New York City, the National Book Foundation looks forward to adding to its family of celebrated authors and landmark works.

At the center of the National Book Foundation is its mission to celebrate the best literature in America, expand its audience, and ensure that books have a prominent place in American culture. This year, in the midst of a global pandemic, the National Book Foundation persisted in its mission, and opened submissions to the National Book Awards from April 1 through May 20. Even in these changing and unprecedented times, the number of submissions from publishers did not decline from previous years, showing the commitment of the entire publishing community to our mission to honor books, to champion the work of writers, and to protect, stimulate, and promote discourse in American culture. Since the first National Book Awards in 1950, the literary community has gathered to celebrate literary excellence, commemorating new talent alongside established writers and artists. The tradition of honoring National Book Awards Longlisters, Finalists, and Winners will continue, in no small part thanks to the incredible commitment of our 2020 Judges, who are reading all submissions digitally this year.

“We are so grateful to this year’s judging panels, and this work could not be done without them,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “The National Book Awards are a celebration of books and all the people who have a hand in forming them. As a country, and within the literary community, we have all experienced a shift in reality; yet through this collective uncertainty, we are dedicated to centering and elevating the work of writers who are grounding us and giving us the gift of their words. The ceremony in November is the time for doing so and we look forward to sharing it with all of you.”

The National Book Foundation will share further updates and news about its plans for 5 Under 35, the National Book Awards Finalist Reading, Teen Press Conference, and the 71st National Book Awards Ceremony in the coming weeks and months. Every year, but especially this one, it is our greatest hope that the National Book Awards will be shared with readers everywhere, as we collectively continue the tradition of bestowing one of the most meaningful accolades in literature to all of the 2020 recipients.